Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

What keeps your customers up at night?

October 9, 2009

Adapting marketing messages to specific audiences is a topic I’ve written on here and in a few of my Forrester reports.  Getting the messages right requires an understanding of the drivers and motivations of buyers.  And, going into new geographical markets means that you’ll need local knowledge; you can’t assume that you know what will resonate in a particular market.  Recently I came across an example that illustrates the point in The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund.

In 2002, Acumen Fund began investing in the production and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets in Tanzania.  While initial investment enabled increased production, and subsequent grants hAcumen_bednetselped distribute the nets to at-risk groups, the Acumen Fund’s mission is to promote social entrepreneurship primarily through market mechanisms.  They wanted to extend distribution beyond give-aways so that nets would be available to everyone.  So, they worked to kick-start a distribution network of sales women who sold door-to-door and at “parties” similar to Tupperware or the Avon lady… I’ve digressed but only to establish context.

One woman particularly successful at selling nets demonstrated that she truly understood her audience.  Rather than pitching the nets through public health messages, she appealed to what she knew would really motivate her potential buyers.  Rather than “must” or “should” and details of health improvements, she focused on beauty, vanity, status, and comfort:  the nets got rid of insects buzzing in your ears and made it easier to get a full night sleep; with more sleep the children would do better in school; the nets are colorful and decorate the house; and when neighbors see them they will be impressed with how well you are caring for your family.

The example is bed nets in Africa but the lesson applies to any product or market.  Knowing what keeps your potential customers up at night — whether it’s mosquitoes or cost or competition — is key to crafting the right messages.


Bridge the Financial Divide with Netbooks

October 1, 2009

There was a great mobile banking article in the Economist last week.   It reminded me of a report written by GSMA on its Mobile Money for the Unbanked initiative that came out a few months back.  The GSMA report points out that mobility penetrMobility_FSaccessation is much higher in emerging markets than is access to financial services — an opportunity for mobile operators and banks to work together to bridge the financial divide.  So, I began mulling the opportunity that these trends provide for netbook adoption:  why don’t netbook vendors partner with local banks to deliver financial services via 3G-enabled netbooks.

Mobile banking has taken off through cell phone access, particularly in Africa and the Philippines. Smart Communications in the Philippines launched its SMART Money initiative in 2000. In 2004 and 2005 some of the first innovative deployments of mobile banking in Africa were launched in South Africa— by WIZZIT and MTN Standard Bank respectively. Safaricom and Vodafone launched M-PESA in Kenya in 2007, with growth of up to 10,000 new users a day, and now over 5 million customers. More recently, MTN announced expansion of its Mobile Money service to its over 80 million subscribers in 21 countries. And, Vodafone will soon replicate M-PESA scale in Tanzania, Zain launched ‘Zap’ in Kenya and Uganda with plans for a broader rollout.  Orange is also piloting a deployment of Orange Money in Cote D’Ivoire.

Combining the momentum of mobile banking and the lively SMB segment, banks in emerging market have an opportunity to equip small businesses with netbooks.  Again, recalling my previous post, for many in emerging markets a netbook is a step up as an internet access and business device.  Sounds like a win-win all around.

Global versus local: how do you get the messages right?

September 16, 2009

Some people melt over images of dogs; others recoil.  But, there is apparently a wide range of reactions in between.  And, one of HSBCs airport ads expresses it well.  Not only are there different emotional reactions to images: images also evoke different meanings for people.  An HSBC ad in Heathrow Airport in London shows a simple image of a pug (those small dogs with the wrinkled up faces) with three words: alarm clock, companion, accessory.    Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture.  I only wrote down the words.  Fortunately, I did that.  As I was describing it to someone without looking at my notes, I included “nuisance” among the words — guess that’s says something about what the picture meant to me.


(Click for a full-sized version)

The point of all of this is that marketing messages and images speak differently to different audiences.  Crafting messages that resonate best with a specific target audience requires localization.  For B2B audiences, it helps to know what the business drivers are for the audience: what are the goals of the company, what are the objectives set for specific organization, what are the things that keep the boss up at night.  For example, IT decision-makers across different regions adopt software as a service (versus purchasing licenses of a product) for a variety of reasons.  Understanding those reasons helps to determine the messaging that would resonate best with those decision-makers.  The data suggest cost-efficiency and ROI messages for some regions — North America and Western Europe— and time-to-market and competitive advantages in others — Asia Pacific and Middle East, Africa and Russia.

Global marketing also requires a degree of consistency.   How do you strike that balance?  My new report — Get the B2B Messages Right: Balance Global Consistency And Local Relevancy — discusses the challenge of getting the global messages right for local audiences, and provides some recommendations for how to do it.